The cancer experience

My body changes

Cancer patients can experience a range of physical changes during and after treatment. Some common problems are discussed below. If you would like more information about managing these or any other problems, please consult your health professional and Solaris Cancer Care for further support. 

Common body changes from cancer

Everyone has a picture in their mind of the way they look. Good, bad, or somewhere in between, we can’t help but feel something in connection with our body image. However, body image goes beyond our perceived level of attractiveness. How comfortable we feel in our bodies and how in control we feel over their functions play an important role in how we see ourselves. When that changes because of something like cancer, a person’s entire identity can seem to be altered as well. Coping with these changes is part of dealing with cancer.

Cancer and its treatment can also affect the normal changes your body goes through. For example, in young adults,  cancer or its treatment can slow down your growth, affect your menstrual cycle, or make acne more difficult to treat.

Coping with changes to your body

You might be sad or angry about physical changes. They might be depressing or even frightening. Give yourself time and space to grieve and get upset when you need to. Here are some ways to help you cope with the changes.

Remember that cancer cannot take away your personality, interests, or talents. You might even discover a new talent or strength.

  • Eat healthy and get enough sleep. Ask your doctor about drinking alcohol and any limits on your diet. Read More about Nutrition.
  • Get regular exercise. Sometimes, you might not be able to do all the activities that you did before cancer. But there may be new types of exercise and activities for you to explore. Trying a new activity can help you gain confidence in your body. Ask your doctor about any limits on your physical activity. Read More about Exercise.
  • Protect your skin from the sun. Cancer treatment might make it more sensitive.
  • Let your health care team know about your concerns and questions. 

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